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Maureen Carroll Chosen for 2018 L. Hart Wright Teaching Award

By Lori Atherton
April 27, 2018

Michael Smith has taken Civil Procedure and Complex Litigation with Assistant Professor Maureen Carroll, so when he says that she “gets law students,” he’s speaking from personal experience.

“Professor Carroll is a warm, welcoming, friendly, and kind presence at the front of the classroom,” said Smith, a 2L. “It’s remarkably apparent how much she truly cares. She goes out of her way, in class and out, to make sure every student is a part of the classroom community and that my colleagues—with their many and varied backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives—are heard.”

Carroll’s approachability and teaching style seem to have resonated with students, who selected her as the recipient of the 2018 L. Hart Wright Award for Excellence in Teaching. Carroll is only in her second year of teaching at the Law School and is thrilled with the recognition. “This award makes me so happy,” she said. “I love my students, and I put a lot of effort into providing a good experience for them. I’m really honored and flattered to win the award, because it tells me I’m not entirely on the wrong path, and I intend to keep working on my teaching.”

Carroll teaches Civil Procedure, Complex Litigation, and a seminar on Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, and the Law. She previously taught at the UCLA School of Law, where she was the Bernard A. and Lenore S. Greenberg Law Review Fellow. She became interested in teaching after seeing her own Civil Procedure professor in action at UCLA. “He made law school fun,” Carroll said, “and he was really passionate about the subject matter. He made everything vivid, and he helped us understand why what we were learning mattered. He also cared about what we thought.”

Ensuring that her own students feel heard is a priority for Carroll, who wants them to learn not only what she’s teaching them, but also from their peers. “There’s a lot that we can learn from each other if we create the space for it,” she said.

Carroll is passionate about bringing her subject matter to life and making sure students, especially first-year students, understand it, said 1L Areeba Jibril. “I’ve never had a teacher put this much effort into making sure every student was learning,” she noted, “and learning in the best way for them.”

Maggie Vogel, another 1L, concurred. “Professor Carroll stands out because of her commitment to using a wide range of teaching tools to help 1L learning,” she said. “This included writing an extra five hypotheticals for us with detailed rubrics and sample answers (in addition to the three required hypotheticals), Friday clicker slides reviewing what we had learned, and general flexibility and clarity that is so helpful from a professor.”

Outside the classroom, Carroll puts equal effort into being accessible to students, no matter what issues they might be facing, noted Jibril and Vogel. “Professor Carroll was always around to listen and offer support for the many crises that 1L year had to offer,” Jibril said. “She genuinely makes her students feel valued and supported,” added Vogel. “Law school, particularly as a 1L, can be a difficult and scary place, and Professor Carroll makes it less so. In one particular instance, I went to her office feeling unsure and discouraged about law school in general. Professor Carroll took the time to reassure me not just about Civ Pro, but about all things law, and helped me get through my first-semester slump.”

When it comes to approachability, Carroll said she takes her cue from other professors at the Law School. “One of the things I love about Michigan is that there isn’t an artificial distance between faculty and students,” Carroll said. “There’s an interest in each student as a person.”

Smith, the 2L, said that interest was evident during his two classes with Carroll. “Complex Litigation was far and away my favorite class this semester, and it’s entirely due to Professor Carroll, her teaching style, and the community she’s carefully cultivated in class,” he said. “With the quality of teaching here, it must be almost impossible to win this award in your second year. But I'm not surprised in the least that Professor Carroll did it.”

The L. Hart Wright Award is named after the beloved Michigan Law professor who was renowned in the field of tax law. The student-nominated award is presented annually to a faculty member by the Law School Student Senate (LSSS). Carroll will receive the award at the LSSS's faculty wine and cheese reception next fall.

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